Best travel movies to inspire your wanderlust

These days, due to COVID lockdown, I have been missing a lot of things that I used to take for granted before. I miss going out for long walks. I miss sitting on the swing in the nearby park. I miss going for a swim. I miss sneaking out of the house late in the night to savour an ice-cream. I miss going to the movies. I miss my outdoor running routine with my favourite music blaring in the headphones. I miss riding to unknown destinations to watch a sunset. I miss going out to feed and spend time with the street dogs. I miss being the old me. But the thing I miss the most is, without a doubt, travelling, meeting new people and learning new things on the go.


This COVID lockdown has taken a toll on me. Each morning I wake up with a fear of what-ifs. What if I will never go back to the life that I loved. What if the normal world that used to exist soon becomes a fictional story. What if I will have to say goodbye to people, I thought would stay longer with me. What if I will never see my loved ones again. What if I will never be able to visit places that I very carefully placed in my travel bucket list. And as the day continues to unfold, I have to look for comfort. For me, that comfort only comes from travel (and ice-cream!).


There is no other way to keep me sane in this COVID lockdown period without hoping. Hoping that everything will be fine soon. Hoping that I will be travelling again. Hoping that I will do all that I had ever dreamt of. I understand how difficult it is to pass days in this global pandemic and waking up to unhappy news each day. So, I have started reading and watching travel content. If you are a travel buff like me, trust me, this list of travel movies will inspire your wanderlust in this ‘stay at home’ period. So, watch these and never stop hoping.


I have been meaning to write this post for a long time. Being an avid reader and writer, I always prefer books over movies. But off lately, I have come across some incredible travel movies that took my heart away. I am travelling and going to places virtually, by watching these movies and I suggest you do the same. So, here’s a list of travel movies (both Hollywood and Bollywood) that you must watch in this COVID lockdown period to inspire your wanderlust.


BEST HOLLYWOOD TRAVEL MOVIES TO INSPIRE YOUR WANDERLUST

A lot of Hollywood movies that inspire us to travel were adapted from books. And usually its always better to read the book and then watch the movie to gain the maximum inspiration. So we have also provided a link to buy the books that led to creation of these travel movies.


1. Into the Wild (2007) - Movie available on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Into the Wild is a story about moving away from the comfort zone, step out and live an independent life. The movie is an adaptation of the book of the same name and narrates the story of a man who abandons all he owns and hitchhikes to live in the wilderness in Alaska. The movie raises some thought provoking questions and epitomises adventure, freedom and the joy of impromptu travel plans while traversing through Alaska’s stunning landscapes.

Buy Into the wild book by Jon Krakauer



2. Away We Go (2009) - Movie available on Amazon Prime US

Away We Go is a story of meeting and interacting with new people having different lifestyles. It is a feel good road movie about long-time lovers expecting their first child, who set-out for a house-hunt around the country for their child to grow. They eventually realise that finding a home is a journey into one’s heart. The movie provides a bittersweet tour of North America.



3. The Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013) - Before sunrise available on Netflix, All movies available on Amazon Prime US

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight is a slow-cinema trilogy, all set in exotic locations in Europe. The love story of the couple who meet in a train, takes you on an intimate journey across Vienna, Austria, Paris and the Greek Islands. Shot at an interval of 9 years with the same actors, these three movies bring about various facets of love through conversations between the lead characters and in a way prove that travel has the power to revamp your perception of life. Cant wait for 2022!



4. The secret life of Walter Mitty (2013) - Movie available on Amazon Prime US

The secret life of Walter Mitty is about the life-changing journey of a corporate employee who is pushed out of his comfort zone and has to embark on an adventure to remote locations in Greenland and Iceland and even to the Himalayas. The movie is a testament that travel gives you an opportunity to embrace your fears.



5. The Bucket List (2007) - Movie available on Netflix

The Bucket List is a story of two terminally ill elder patients who head off on a road trip with a bucket list of adventures they had only imagined doing once. The movie reminds that life is too short and you should tick off your bucket list sooner than later. The movie is filmed in various locations in Africa, India, Egypt, China, France and the US.



6. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) - Available on Amazon Prime US

The Motorcycle Diaries is based on a true story on the life of Che Guevara’s motorcycle road adventure. The main lead travels over 14,000 kilometres across 8 months with his friend on a motorcycle through some stunning locations in South America, including Machu Picchu, Patagonia, Buenos Aires, Venezuela, Atacama Desert and Caracas. This road trip helps inspire and shape the rest of his life from being naive to revolutionary.

Buy Motorcycle Diaries book by Ernesto Che Guevara



7. The Darjeeling Limited (2007) - Available on Amazon Prime US and Hulu

The Darjeeling Limited is a story about three wealthy and spoilt American brothers who take a rail journey across India. The movie beautifully depicts how travel can wonderfully heal and rejuvenate a person. While the movie has its flaws, it juxtaposes the chaos, culture and colours of India and the captivating visuals come in the form of barren deserts and forested mountains.



8. Wild (2014) - Available on Amazon Prime US

Wild is a real-life story of a woman’s 1000-mile journey across the US. Based on a book, it is about the inspiring story of her bravery and self-discovery. This movie will make you realise that it’s always about the journey and not the destination. The movie reminds that travelling is a process of recovery and self-acceptance. Wild is an absolute must-watch for solo female travellers.

Buy Wild: A journey from lost to found book by Cheryl Strayed



9. Seven years in Tibet (1997) - Available on Netflix

Seven years in Tibet is about Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountaineer, who sets off to conquer a Himalayan peak but eventually ends up in Tibetan city of Lhasa. The movie is about his struggles and his friendship with Dalai Lama. Seven years in Tibet provides an insight into the stunning scenes of the Himalayas and the Potala Palace. Based on a book by same name, the movie shows how travelling can change your life.

Buy Seven years in Tibet book by Heinrich Harrer



10. Eat Pray Love (2010) - Available on Netflix

Eat Pray Love is a movie adaptation of a book with the same name written by Elizabeth Gilbert. The story is about a woman who quits her job to travel the world. Her travel takes her to Italy, India and Indonesia (Bali) where she finds her true self. The movie teaches to let go off the past and embrace the future with an open heart.

Buy Eat Pray Love book by Elizabeth Gilbert



BEST BOLLYWOOD TRAVEL MOVIES TO INSPIRE YOUR WANDERLUST

There are few Bollywood movies themed purely around travel. Either travel is a smaller aspect of a movie or there are Bollywood movies which inspire wanderlust through its amazing portrayal of certain locations. We have included both these types of movies which inspires one to hit the road.


1. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) - Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime

While one always thinks of Hollywood movies when it comes to travel and action genre, no other movie in Bollywood strikes the chord to travel as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara does. The movie takes you through scenic drives along coastal Spain. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a story of three friends who take a long needed holiday and indulge in adventure experiences across different locations that help them overcome their fears. The movie stresses on the fact that memories are the best investment in your life.



2. Highway (2014) - Available on Hotstar

While Highway might be an unsettling movie, its bluntness is shadowed by the picturesque landscapes of Northern India. The movie beautifully reels through the remote Sangla Valley in Himachal Pradesh and wades along the endless highways of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi. The movie inspires you to drop everything, head on a road trip and let fate take care of you. It brings out the true meaning of freedom.



3. Jab We Met (2007) - Available on Amazon Prime

Jab We Met is an accidental love story between two characters who take you on a romantic journey across India. The shots of vast green pastures of Bhatinda, snow-covered mountains of Manali and Shimla, roads of Rajasthan and the beautiful Rohtang Pass are breath-taking. The movie teaches to live in the present rather than dwelling on to the past.



4. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) - Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani will inspire you to pack your rucksacks and venture out on exciting Himalayan treks. The movie beautifully captures amazing destinations like Himachal Pradesh, European streets and Rajasthan. This movie confirms the belief that you can find a soulmate while travelling. It is a perfect mix of travel and friendship. Watch this movie and take that holiday with your friends before you plunge into real-world life.



5. Queen (2014) - Available on Netflix and Sonyliv

Queen is a quintessential travel movie not because it showcases exotic destinations or journey through a place, but because it hits all the right cords of a traveller's heart mainly through the mental state of its lead character. From fear of being in an unknown country to figuring out her way, she finally makes friends for life in an unfamiliar land; something which is extremely common for travellers worldwide. This slow transition is portrayed through an extremely delightful and innocent character and difficult circumstances. Queen is a story of discovering self-confidence in an unknown land.



6. Karwaan (2018) - Available on Amazon Prime

Karwaan is a life-changing road journey of three characters who are accidentally brought together by love, loss and death. The movie in its essence is so relatable that you will feel like you are watching real-life events from the sidelines. The movie does full justice to the beautiful Nilgiris of Karnataka and backwaters of Kerala. Karwaan is more about letting go off your emotional baggages.



7. Notebook (2019) - Available on Amazon Prime

Notebook offers most ravishing views of Kashmir where every frame bursts with beauty. The movie is equivalent to an old-world romance where the characters hardly share screen space but still fall in love. This movie actually has nothing to do with travel, but the top-notch cinematography and goosebumpy sceneries of Kashmir’s Wular Lake will surely inspire your wanderlust.



8. Dil Chahta Hai (2001) - Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Dil Chahta Hai is a story about three close friends and how they find love in the most unexpected places. The movie is shot in alluring locales of Sydney, Goa and Mumbai and single-handedly boosted tourism in Goa. Though it fluctuates across many emotions, Dil Chahta Hai is sure to urge you to plan a trip with your friends. It teaches that time and distance does not diminish bonds between friends.



9. Dhanak (2015) - Available on Netflix

Dhanak’s story is based on the innocence of children and their wide-eyed beliefs in optimism. Dhanak is a story about love and hope. The movie is about road-journey of two children and teaches us to keep faith. Dhanak takes you through stunning landscapes of deserts of Rajasthan with rippling dunes, colourful turbans and tribal women. It symbolises the coming of age.



10. Tamasha (2015) - Available on Amazon Prime

Tamasha is one of those movies which has a mix of die hard fans and haters. It is most remembered for its lovely portrayal of Corsica, France but is much deeper than that. Tamasha is about a man's conflict between his two selves - one which is seen when he travels and other which he is trying to become in line with society's expectations. The movie showcases this inner struggle and journey of discovering his true self. This movie is bound to invoke your sleeping or hidden self and if you are an explorer at heart, it will awaken your wanderlust.


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I would love to keep updating this list time and again and keep adding to it. Let me know if you come across any such movie that inspired you want to travel. Did you find the listicle useful? Do let me know in the comment section below.


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